Officials confirmed 12 victims were dead and six were injured in a Virginia Beach shooting Friday afternoon at Building 2 of the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.
The mass shooting suspect is also dead. His name has not yet been released.
Watch the first full press conference here.
City employees were minutes from the end of their work week when a longtime public utility employee began to “indiscriminately fire” at victims on multiple floors of the building at about 4:15 p.m., said Virginia Beach Police Chief James A. Cervera.
Virginia Beach shooting press conference updates are available here.
A Virginia Beach Police officer was shot when officers confronted the suspect.
“He was saved by his vest,” said Cervera.
The officer, whose name has not been released, is being treated at a hospital. Officers returned fire on the suspect, who later died.
“There’s no way to describe an incident such as this. No chief of police anywhere in the country, no mayor, no city manager, no assistant city manager, no fire chief no rescue chief ever wants to have stand up and give information such as this,” Cervera said. “I think at this particular point, I want to give the utmost respect to the victims and to their families because they are going to be forever changed based on this particular incident.”
He said they are working to identify the victims and personally notify their family members. A family assistance center was set up for the building employees to find their friends and family at a local school. He did not release conditions of the injured victims.
Cervera paused to regain his composure as he approached the microphone for the press conference.
Many questions remain unanswered, he said. He declined to comment on the suspect’s motive, saying he was a current employee.
He repeatedly described the “intensity” of the scene. Virginia Beach Police are being assisted by forensic units from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and Virginia State Police.
“Right now we have a lot of questions. The ‘whys’ they will come later. Right now we have more questions, really, than we have answers. And we use the word event – that’s a cop term – this devastating incident that happened that none of us want to be here talking about. This devastating incident which is going to change the lives of a number of families from our city.”
Cervera was unable to say how long the suspect was firing shots, saying only that shootings of this kind are “usually very quick.”
“I can tell you this: The fact that the suspect was immediately confronted, the fact that the suspect is deceased, means that our citizens can rest easy tonight. We do not have someone who’s out in the community to do more harm,” he said.
Cervera said he wanted Virginia Beach residents to know that when the “violent, violent act” occurred, police, fire and rescue services responded immediately and handled the situation professionally “because that’s what they do.”
Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer opened the press conference tearfully and introduced Cervera. The police chief placed a comforting hand on the mayor’s shoulder.
“Let’s start with what is most important. This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach. The people involved are our friends, coworkers, neighbors, colleagues,” Dyer said.
Virginia Beach City Councilman Aaron Rouse concluded the conference with words of empowerment for the city and its people.
“This day will not define Virginia Beach,” he said. “…We will come together. We will show the strength of our city.”
A second press conference is scheduled for 9:30 p.m.